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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 11, 2002

Music Scene
Music springs from memory

By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Staff Writer

It'll be a concert without walls, of sorts, when the Jacques Thibaud Trio makes its Honolulu debut Saturday night at Orvis Auditorium.

The Jacques Thibaud Trio

8 p.m. Saturday

Orvis Auditorium, University of Hawai'i-Manoa

$24 general, $15 students

956-6878, 956-8246

Some call it playing by heart or by memory. Some call it just plain rebellious and stupid.

Whatever you think about the idea of chamber musicians chucking music stands and constant page-turning in favor of breezing through classical works with only their fertile minds to guide them, an evening with the Berlin-based Jacques Thibaud Trio should prove nothing if not interesting.

First off, the trio — violinist Burkhard Maiss, violist Philip Douvier, cellist Uwe Hirth-Schmidt — does play from memory. A conceit generally limited to concerto soloists, piano recitalists and solo vocalists, the trio decided to perform minus sheet music after realizing during a rehearsal that 1) they knew every movement and measure of the music they were playing, and 2) the stands and paperwork walled them off from each other and the audience.

The result hasn't limited the trio's repertoire, which includes compositions by Mozart, J.S. Bach, Schubert and Schonberg, among others. On stage, the trio is able to play with manic nirvana when an energetic piece such as Beethoven's C Minor Trio Op. 9 No. 3 calls for it, and become quietly contemplative for the most tranquil passages of Ernst von Dohnnyi's little-heard Serenade In C Major, Op. 10.

Though the members of the trio wouldn't meet until their teenage years, each was trained musically from age 3 and introduced to their instruments at 5. Maiss met Douvier while taking professional studies, at age 16, at Berlin's College of Arts, and the two formed a number of chamber groups. Hirth-Schmidt met Maiss when the two were thrown together to form a short-term piano trio. Maiss introduced Hirth-Schmidt to Douvier and — having much more than a hunch — knew that the group must somehow form a trio.

Which is how they all became — with an homage to a certain master French violinist and noted chamber music devotee — the Jacques Thibaud Trio.

Since 1994, the trio has toured the world, making its United States debut in Boston in 1997 and taking top honors in 1999's Bonn Chamber Music Competition.

Tomorrow's Orvis Auditorium performance — the trio's first in Honolulu — will also feature accompaniment by Honolulu Symphony oboist Nancy Dimock on Mozart's Oboe Quartet in F Major. The trio will also be available to chat up on fugues and adagios at a pre-concert "meet the artists" function from 7 to 7:30 p.m. in room 36 of the Music Building complex.

Considering that the three share a fondness for dark humor — at least according to their self-penned press bios — you might want to ask Maiss about his childhood fascination with scaring his parents with "the amphibious and reptilian inhabitants" of his room, Hirth-Schmidt's varied career aspirations, and Douvier's once obsessive fascination with MTV.

That is, if their memories recall.